The Thing Is: Andrew Regan

The last time The Independent on Sunday team saw Andrew Regan, the businessman cleared of theft charges last week, he was surrounded by his entrepreneurial friends and a bevy of female beauties.

He was sitting with Michael Basso, who runs clothing supplier Pan World Brands, at the Deloitte & Touche/Indy 100 awards for fast-growing companies in April. Their table rang with raucous laughter. But Mr Regan was quick to ring our office the next morning to assure us he had gone straight home that evening.

The married father of six was understandably edgy, after six years of high-profile controversy involving the theft case, where he was accused of masterminding the corruption of two executives at the Co-operative Wholesale Society. He must rue the day in 1997 that he decided to pursue the audacious £1.6bn bid for CWS, now part of the Co-operative Group which owns the Co-op bank and retail chain. He saw an opportunity to break up the ailing mutual and make a fortune. But the Co-op's private investigators discovered two directors had been meeting Mr Regan illicitly, prompting the collapse of the bid and the Serious Fraud Office probe.

The trial that ended last week was the SFO's third attempt to try Mr Regan for the alleged theft of £2.4m from Hobson, the food supplier he managed, in order to bribe two Co-op executives to secure a lucrative contract for the company. Allan Green and David Chambers are now in prison for each accepting a £1m bribe, and it was alleged by the SFO that Mr Regan knew the money was intended for illicit purposes.

But the SFO failed to convince the jury of this - a jury that had to be given round-the-clock police protection after a mysterious attempt at "nobbling" that had halted the second trial. There is no suggestion Mr Regan was involved, but he endured eight days in Pentonville while police investigated the allegations. There he was "surrounded by drugs" and told not to go into the exercise yard or risk being "done over."

The judge was forced to tell the jury to ignore the impression police protection could give. The jury believed Mr Regan when he said he had thought the £2.4m was a brokerage fee to the intermediary, Israeli businessman Ronald Zimet. Mr Zimet was best known in the UK as chairman of Scoot.com, the internet directory company that soared in the dot-com boom then crashed and burned.

It was Mr Zimet who was the key prosecution witness. He alleged Mr Regan had masterminded the bribery attempt. But he was given immunity if he would testify, and the defence rounded on his credibility as a witness.

The use of such witnesses has been common in SFO trials. For example, in the Guinness case, the company's former finance director, Olivier Roux, a key prosecution witness, was slated by the defence counsel, who alleged that he had made up his story in order to gain immunity from prosecution. Mr Roux denied he had been given any such deal, and the prosecution was in the main successful in the trial.

The method has worked in a false accounting case against the chief executive of oil firm Alliance Resources, but the SFO is likely to review the practice after the expensive failure of the Regan trial. It is estimated it could have to pay two-thirds of the defendant's costs, as much as £2m.

An intriguing question is what he will do with his millions now his name has been cleared. Son of the highly respected Roger Regan, who ran the Spring Ram bathroom company, he made £3m on his 30th birthday when he sold Hobson to Hillsdown Holdings for £121m in 1995. The deal came shortly after he renewed the infamous contract to supply the Co-op.

His spokesman says he is relaxing with family and friends and will take two months before deciding what deals he wants to handle.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
Sport
footballMan City manager would have loved to have signed Argentine
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
News
i100
Sport
Enner Valencia
footballStriker has enjoyed a rapid rise to fame via winning the title with ‘The Blue Ballet’ in Ecuador
Arts and Entertainment
A top literary agent has compared online giant Amazon to Isis
arts + entsAndrew Wylie has pulled no punches in criticism of Amazon
Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would
tv

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

The benefits of Recruitment at SThree...

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Finance Assistant - Part time - 9 month FTC

£20000 - £23250 Per Annum pro rata: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pro rata ...

Marketing Manager

£40 - 48k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Manager to join...

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities